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AP: Muscle Shoals area among the communities offering perks to attract residents


The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports a strong job market this year, with about 353,000 jobs added so far in 2024 and a stable unemployment rate of 3.7%. This might be why cities nationwide are seizing the opportunity to attract job seekers to their area with special relocation perks for remote workers and new residents. An Associated Press analysis shows Muscle Shoals is among the communities making offers.

According to a report by Upwork, the number of remote workers in the United States is expected to reach 36.2 million by 2025; an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels. This comes amidst a notable shift in property preferences, driven by the increase of remote work and a growing focus on quality of life over proximity to traditional work.

Data from the Four Seasons magazine supports this trend. People spend more time in their homes, and homebuyers increasingly prioritize properties with larger living spaces, outdoor amenities, and access to nature.

U.S. Cities That Pay You To Relocate

In response to the growing demand for remote work and shifting lifestyle preferences, Zillow compiled a list of several cities across the United States implementing relocation programs to attract remote workers. These programs offer financial incentives and aim to provide new residents with a high quality of life and a vibrant community.

Shoals Region, Alabama

Muscle Shoals, Alabama, already attracts residents due to its affordability and rich cultural heritage. The city is just two hours from bigger urban areas like Nashville, Birmingham, and Memphis. But why visit those other cities when Muscle Shoals boasts its own piece of music history with iconic recording studios and attractions like the Fame Recording Studios?

The Remote Shoals program offers a $10,000 cash incentive for relocation, distributed over the first year. To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years old, earn a minimum annual income of $52,000, and commit to moving within six months of acceptance.

Paducah, Kentucky

Paducah, Kentucky, nestled in the western part of the state, is known for its flourishing arts and culture ambiance and culinary hotspots. Downtown Paducah showcases historic architecture, art galleries, and boutique shops, while its dining scene offers a range of local cafes, established restaurants, and bars.

In efforts to attract new residents, Paducah offers a relocation package of approximately $6,500, which includes a $2,500 reimbursement to assist with moving expenses. This ensures a smooth transition for individuals and families relocating to the area. Paducah also provides a 12-month internet package to new residents, helping them stay connected and jump into their remote jobs from the comfort of their new homes.

Residents can also enjoy complimentary tickets to various shows and museums, which will allow them to enjoy Paducah's arts and entertainment scene as well.

Greater Rochester, New York

The Greater Rochester area in New York is in the heart of the state's wine region, and if that isn't incentive enough to move there, the area offers remote workers a generous relocation package. The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce introduced the Greater ROC Remote, a program to attract remote workers to Rochester, New York.

The initiative offers relocation incentives of up to $10,000 and homebuyer grants of up to $9,000. The program targets remote workers living at least 300 miles away from the area and aims to relocate 25-30 participants in its initial phase, with a long-term goal of relocating up to 600 workers.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

For those who seek a city with a lot of activities, don't overlook Tulsa, Oklahoma. This city boasts an array of family-friendly and enriching activities, including the Bob Dylan Center, iconic venues like Cain's Ballroom, and a thriving arts scene encompassing ballet, opera, and numerous museums.

With its Tulsa Remote program, the city attracts remote workers by offering a $10,000 home purchase grant, providing a substantial incentive for newcomers. The grant is disbursed as a lump sum after the purchase of a qualifying home and attendance at a Tulsa Remote orientation. Applicants must be full-time remote or self-employed outside of Oklahoma.

Since its start in 2018, the Tulsa Remote program has fostered a vibrant community of professionals, welcoming more than 2,200 remote workers.

West Virginia

West Virginia communities like Greenbrier Valley, Morgantown, and the Eastern Panhandle offer a tranquil escape for remote workers seeking a change of scenery. The Ascend program makes relocation an enticing prospect for a lot of people, with a generous $12,000 cash stipend awaiting newcomers.

Beyond the financial incentive, residents immerse themselves in outdoor adventures, from scenic hikes along the Allegheny Mountains to thrilling whitewater rafting excursions on the Gauley River. Residents who move as part of the program can take part in a year of free outdoor activities, such as skiing and whitewater rafting, which is perfect for remote workers looking for adventure in their new home. Moving to these West Virginia communities is an invitation to embrace a lifestyle filled with natural beauty and endless exploration.

Bemidji, Minnesota

Bemidji, Minnesota, offers outdoor adventures, making it an ideal destination for remote workers seeking a serene lifestyle in the Midwest. The town welcomes telecommuters through its relocation incentive package and provides essential amenities such as internet service, a coworking space membership, and teleworking support.

Bemidji invites residents to explore forest trails, perfect for hiking, biking, and skiing. Outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy fishing, kayaking, and boating on Minnesota's many lakes. The lively downtown area offers unique shops, cafes, and the occasional farmers' markets. Bemidji also has an art scene with a few local art galleries and live music venues.

Topeka, Kansas

Topeka, Kansas, extends a warm invitation to possible new residents and former residents through its Choose Topeka program, which intends to attract talent and boost its vibrant communities. Offering incentives for on-site workers, returning residents, and transitioning military service members, the program provides financial support of up to $15,000 for home purchases or $10,000 for rental assistance in the first year.

With its rich cultural heritage, bustling downtown area, and recreational opportunities, Topeka might be a great destination for your family, especially if you're looking to thrive in a welcoming community.

Newton, Iowa

Newton, Iowa, welcomes prospective residents with its generous home buyer incentive program, which offers $10,000 to eligible individuals purchasing new construction homes valued at $240,000 or more.

Just 30 minutes from downtown Des Moines, Newton provides a peaceful, traditional suburban lifestyle not too far from a major city. The Newton initiative highlights their commitment to sustainable growth and attracting families looking for affordable living options in a community setting.

Residents enjoy easy access to nearby cities for work and entertainment. Still, they may spend more time in their new home of Newton, which has many businesses, including local shops and eateries.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland, stands out with its Live Near Your Work Program, a partnership between Baltimore City and participating employers to encourage homeownership near places of employment. The program offers incentives for new homeowners in the area. The owners' employer matches contributions for an employee's new home, anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500. While specific amounts vary based on employer participation, these incentives reduce upfront costs for homebuyers in Baltimore.

The initiative hopes to strengthen community bonds and help local businesses incentivize residents to live closer to their workplaces. Baltimore is also located close to Washington, D.C., and it has a lot of outdoor attractions for residents, including the picturesque Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is the best of both worlds for residents who want an urban lifestyle with opportunities for recreation and exploration.

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